Managing Game Flow: How to help your game not run behind

In the regular season, you can cut the clock. However, in playoffs, you no longer have the option to cut the clock so game are more likely to run behind. As such, referees need to ensure that the flow of games is not impeded where ever possible. Here are five situations that may slow the flow of the game and what you may do about it.

Long line changes slow the game

  • Rule 2.5 explains change of players.

  • Rule 2.5d includes the following words "...Each team is allowed only one change of player(s) during a stoppage of play."

    • Therefore, if both teams have changed as soon as play stops, make your line change shorter as not more line changes are permitted after both teams have one even if the home team did not wait..

Scrums at whistles slow the game

  • Take a look at Rule 6.7 Situation 2.

  • Some officials will call coincidental penalties for Roughing After the Whistle; this is not effective way to discourages scrums.

    • Therefore, as per Rule 6.7 Situation 2, make one team short. Players will change what they are doing if their team has to kill a penalty.

Freezing the puck on the boards

  • Rule 10.10 reads that "Puck must be kept in motion"

  • Play should only be stopped if the puck cannot be accessed (i.e. stuck in equipment or a player has accidentally fallen on the puck). Play should not be stopped just because a player freezes the puck against the boards.

    • Therefore, you can tell the players "move it" or "come on, find that puck" or "get the puck out"

    • Avoid setting the standard that you will stop play for players freezing the puck on the boards.

Goalie freezing the puck

  • Rule 10.3 Situation 3 describes the goaltender's rights in freezing the puck.

  • The goaltender is not allowed to freeze the puck if she is not under pressure from attacking players.

    • Tell the goaltender "Take a look" or "lots of time".

    • Avoid saying "move the puck" because it takes all the choice away from the goaltender.

      • Make sure that the goaltender still gets to make a choice so that she is responsible for what happens after she releases the puck.
         

Coaches and Captains having long conversations

  • You always want to promote communication with the game participants, sometimes this communication results in long conversations that slow down the game. Here are some strategies or things you can say to end those conversations that are too long:

    • You can say "You know, I did miss that one. I am sorry. But I will promise you that I will keep hustling and my head on a swivel." You could even use this one if you do not feel you "missed one" but sometimes you can end a conversation by saying that you may have "missed one".

    • You can say "You know, from my angle it looked one way and from your angle it looked another. We need to keep this game moving because we only have 1 hour." Then skate away.

    • Avoid going to the bench...Before the game you could say "Hey coach, for the interest of game flow, I probably will not come talk to you during the game. However, I will absolutely talk to your captains." This can work at older levels, but 9-year-olds may not be the best place to use this.

    • Some times, nothing you say will end a conversation. You may need to just skate away.

Hockey Winnipeg Referee Development strives to improve minor hockey by improving officials through mentorship, community development and practical rule applications while graduating minor hockey officials to thrive at higher levels of hockey.